It’s Bobby Bonilla Day

In the world of baseball, July 1 is known as “Bobby Bonilla Day”.  Even though Bonilla last played for the NY Mets in 1999 and that he has been out of MLB since 2001, Bonilla receives a check from the Mets every July 1st for a little more than $1.19M.  Sounds great – – but wait there’s more.  He will continue to receive a check from the NY Mets in that exact amount every July 1st through 2035.  To what good fortune does Bobby Bonilla owe this windfall?

Back in 2000, the Mets wanted to buy out Bonilla’s contract; he was 36 years old and his best playing days were over.  The cost of that buyout was $6M in round numbers.  But the Mets saw a way to make some money on the buyout and offered to defer payment to him – – sort of like an annuity.  The Mets agreed to pay him $1.19M every July 1st from 2011 until 2035 instead of paying him $6M on the spot in 2000.  Here was the Mets’ motivation to offer such a deal:

  • Mets’ owner, Fred Wilpon had invested a whole lot of money with Bernie Madoff and in 2000 those investments were flying high.  By keeping Bonilla’s $6M in Madoff’s funds, the Mets projected that they would rake in huge returns on that $6M and would more than cover the added expenses.

It all came apart at the seams in 2008 when Madoff’s enterprise was exposed as nothing but a Ponzi Scheme and Fred Wilpon lost a ton of money.  Some estimates have his losses as high as $700M; other estimates say he lost a mere $400M.  None of that is important to Bobby Bonilla on July 1st, 2020, because today Bonilla’s bank account will record a deposit of $1,193,248.20.

Staying marginally in the world of baseball for the moment, the folks in charge of the University of Cincinnati have removed Marge Schott’s name from the school’s baseball stadium.  Personally, I do not take nearly the same level of offense at many of the statues around the country that have drawn such ire in recent weeks, but I am not nearly motivated to try to protect those statues either.  However, in the case of Marge Schott – – and George Preston Marshall whose statue in DC was taken down peacefully by the city fathers recently – – I am in full agreement with the removals.  Schott and Marshall were outrageous individuals in their own times and by today’s standards would be categorized as “loathsome creatures” or possibly something lower on the evolutionary scale.  Congratulations to the people at the University of Cincinnati who made the decision to rename that baseball stadium…

Here is a follow-up note…  Yesterday, I said that an undrafted free agent who had signed with the Arizona Cardinals had lost his chance to make a good first impression when he drove his car into Lake Erie “under the influence”.  Last night, I read a report that the Cardinals had released him.

As I have mentioned here several times, the absence of live sports makes it more difficult to find things to write about here.  My long-suffering wife – who is the antithesis of a sports fan – has heard me say that to friends.  Demonstrating her desire to help where possible, I got an email from her yesterday with the subject line reading:

  • “JIC you didn’t see this”

The email contained a link to a story in the Washington Post with this headline:

“Ron Rivera says Redskins name debate is ‘a discussion for another time’”

The recurring debate about that team’s name has always devolved into a strategy to just kick the can down the road.  By delaying any direct encounters that could become confrontational, the vigor of the protesters has waxed and waned while the team name trudges on.  I do not think that is what Ron Rivera is espousing here.  In the same interview where he said the discussion is “for another time”, he also said that his time in football and his view of football is that it ought not to be linked to politics.  He says he supports the players and their involvement in sociopolitical issues, but that he is not necessarily comfortable being in the forefront of something that is so political.

It seems to me that if it is OK for some folks to choose to be “activists”, then it should be just as OK for others to choose to be something other than activists – – even to the point of being “opponents” which is not the case for Ron Rivera.  I think there is another element to his quietude here beyond his preference to stay away from ‘political stuff”:

  • Ron Rivera has been given more latitude and more decision authority that any previous Skins’ coach in the Daniel Snyder Era.  That includes Joe Gibbs who was a boyhood idol of Snyder’s; recall that Gibbs had to deal with and tolerate Vinny Cerrato as the team’s de facto GM and as an éminence grise having the ear of the owner.
  • Rivera has to install his “system” and his “culture” over an off-season where the only way to do that is by remote control.  That is a sufficient challenge for him without potentially getting into anything resembling a crosswise posture with the owner who said he will NEVER change the team name.
  • Even if Rivera is totally convinced that the team name should be changed immediately, he probably has more than a few “football issues” to resolve against upcoming deadlines and the team name debate has no such imminent deadlines.

Remember, I do not read minds; therefore, that analysis above is far more akin to speculation that real analysis…

Finally, Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot recently regarding the ream name for the Skins:

Wondering: It’s been theorized that a fan boycott might convince Snyder to change the team’s name. But judging from attendance at FedEx Field the last few years, how could anybody tell if there was a boycott?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “It’s Bobby Bonilla Day”

  1. Hello,

    You note the difficulty of writing about sports in the current world…I would be interested in any of your thoughts RE Pat Forde’s article in SI, just put out on line, proposing a radical realignment of college football conferences? Just curious…thanks.

    1. Gary L. in El Paso:

      I will have to go and look for the article you reference here; I have not seen it yet.

      A couple of years ago, I suggested a major realignment of college football conferences of my own. I wonder if Pat Forde and I were on the same path?

  2. Curm,
    Here’s a question, and I don’t have an answer, and i do not know if it applies in this case:

    If a donor makes contribution to a building fund WITH THE STIPULATION that the building be named after him (essentially naming rights) wouldn’t the school be obligated to retain the name? They took his/her money. hate it that much? Buy the rights back, or knock it down.

    BTW, check out the timeline. The school took her money years AFTER the anti-black, anti-gay, and pro-Hitler statements, and after she had been run out of baseball.

    If she had not put strings on the money they never should have named it after her and should have taken her name off it years ago

    1. Ed:

      I have no idea what the legal outcome might be if there were a challenge to taking the name off the stadium based on your reasoning. You make a reasonable agrument that the university knew they were taking money from a less-than-wonderful person with more than a smidgen of notoriety attached to the funds. Nonetheless, I have no idea if a judge would see it your way. Let me check with some lawyer acquaintances of mine…

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